French people aren’t content to simply shake hands, they exchange kisses to say hello.
France is full of traditions when it comes to social interaction. It’s sometimes hard to understand as a foreigner. La bise is a French tradition and primarily used as a greeting, but it varies depending on the person in front of you. People who aren’t born in France are often confused and don’t know how to begin or when it’s appropriate to kiss. Foreigners interacting with French people often face this problem.
In France, when you meet friends, everybody in the group gets la bise. You should take into account professional relationships, the age, and status of the person. Be aware that you shouldn’t exchange kisses with your boss but wait for him to initiate the bise. The amount of kisses and the side of the cheek where you should initiate la bise depends of the region where the person in front of you is coming.
You are getting lost? Have a look at the two maps below in order to learn how many kisses and on which cheek you should start! Watch the video of the British humorist Paul Taylor to get a better idea of what to do!